How to Be a Woman
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How to Be a Woman

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  34,077 ratings  ·  4,039 reviews
Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?

Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by Ebury Press
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodHow to Be a Woman by Caitlin MoranMatilda by Roald DahlPersepolis by Marjane SatrapiThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reading Recommendations for a Young Feminist
2nd out of 138 books — 114 voters
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Community Reviews

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Ceilidh
I think it's pretty safe to say that this book wasn't written for me.

Caitlin Moran's columns have always been a bit hit or miss for me but when she's on, she's a witty storyteller with some interesting points to make. She's no groundbreaking pantheon of feminist wisdom, but she's definitely a valuable, and often hilarious, ally. Her book was something I approached with hesitation since several published extracts had left me scratching my head, but with her upcoming scheduled appearance at the E...more
Beth
You know what? Since there are so many four and five star reviews hanging around for this, I will serve a proper review to show why I absolutely could not stand this book. Moran is a sporadically talented writer -- maybe it deserved 2/2.5 stars in the writing stakes. However, I did something I almost never do: I rated this book intellectually.

As a memoir, it succeeded (almost) brilliantly -- her recollection of her wedding had me in absolute stitches and makes me laugh every time I reread it (y...more
Cat
I wanted to like this book so much! But it ended up being something I had to really power through. I laughed once, and it was in the prologue. There were a couple chapters where I was like "YES!! YES!!!", but then more where I was like "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??" and another few where I was like "huh.... ok??".

Things I liked:

-The abortion chapter: Yes! Such a great story. I love how she describes it as something she didn't have to spend tons of time agonizing over, how it wasn't traumatic, h...more
Amanda
Quite an uneven reading experience, a fault I largely blame on the marketing of this book. How to Be a Woman is touted as basically "Feminism--now with jokes!" And that's a concept that I could get onboard with. I would consider myself a feminist, I would consider myself moderately amusing at times, and I would consider myself a fan of Caitlin Moran's white streak in her wild mane--a bit reminiscent of the 90's version of Rogue. So, yes, let's do this! I want to feel empowered as a woman, I want...more
Penney
Because life is too short to feel guilty about not being a perfect woman. Let’s get real.

Caitlin Moran is wicked funny and painfully, awkwardly truthful in this book. Rather than harp on the theoretical implications of modern feminism, Moran skips the arguments and says simply, “Feminism is having a vagina and wanting to be in charge of it.” Ding ding!

She manages to address the horrors of childbirth and the joys of parenting, the conundrum of naming of vaginas, and the unnecessary discomfort of...more
Stella
I have laughed out loud in too many public places reading this perfect book that ALL women need to read and all men too. My reoccuring thought throughout reading was: It's not just me that thinks this way!
In little over 300 pages this book has made my confidence sky rocket.
This book takes you by the shoulders and shakes you like a best friend to remind you how important you are being exactly who you are with your saggy, flabby, wrinkly bits included too. Caitlin Moran - I demand MORE!...
Meagan
Feminists have been moaning about why women (and men) hesitate to label themselves as feminists these days. And rightly so. It makes no sense for women (or men) to be nervous about being pro-gender equality. I have a theory about that, which fits with both this book's assertions and many of the negative reviews of it here on goodreads. A lot of "traditional" feminists have this reputation for being aggressive, judgmental, and overly serious. Who wants to hang out with someone who is likely to fi...more
Carolyn
Two caveats:

One: At times, Moran misses the opportunity to connect the feminist needs and experiences of hetero women to the feminist needs and experiences of GLBTQAI, minority communities, and other groups of people to whom the female experience is infinitely parallel.

Two: I straight-up disagree with her on at least two major points.

But the thing is, her arguments for those two points were not ones I'd heard before. They made me think about issues in genuinely new ways. And I spend a LOT of ti...more
Ridley
Oct 05, 2012 Ridley added it
Has an appalling case of unpacked privilege. Dropping "tranny" and "retard" in this book is just the tip of her shitty iceberg.

Newsflash: feminism that doesn't advocate for ALL women is no better than patriarchy.
Page
EDITING TO ADD: If you are here to tell me that Moron was just being "funny" or "ironic" or any other word meant to belittle my take on Moron's interview and thus insinuate that I just don't get it and I am pearl clutching:

GET THE FUCK OFF MY GOODREADS REVIEW. And go drip your Moron apologia somewhere else. I lived in the UK, I understand Moron's "humour" quite well, and I still think she's a fuckwit poor ass excuse for a female. As are her attack fans. So buh-bye and better luck proselytizing o
...more
Janette Fleming
Synopsis

1913 – Suffragette throws herself under the King’s horse.

1969 – Feminists storm Miss World.

NOW – Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller. There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…
Why are we supposed to get Brazilians?
Should you get Botox?
Do men secretly hate us?
What should you call your
...more
Felicia
If you have even slight feminist beliefs, or if you are a woman who wants your eyes opened, sensibilities shocked, and then laugh your ass off, this is the book. I read Bossypants, which I love, but Caitlin Moran's strong feminist words were so inspiring to me, and just MADE SENSE. I might not have agreed with everything, but I was certainly amused and entertained the whole time. Definitely an auto-biography worth reading, dude or gal! And it's really dirty in parts, she talks about things you N...more
Amber
I'm never going to read this book, ever.

Yes, I may have a lot of privilege, enough that I was able to take an "Introduction to Women's Studies" course last year at my university.

But so does frickin' Caitlin Moran.

And that does NOT make it okay for her to publish a book MARKETED AS AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO FEMINISM that freely uses hate speech, inserts homophobic remarks, promotes an ableist mentality, and ignores general research to avoid making idiotic generalizations on an individual's sexual...more
Andrew Shaffer
Everyone--men and women--should read this. I'm a dude and I didn't, like, grow a vagina or anything. So it's safe.
Jesika
*I won this in the FirstReads giveaway.*

I have never read anything by Caitlin Moran or knew that she was a columnist, so I came to this book without an opinion about the author. This is unusual for me. I usually pick up humorous memoirs by people I already consider funny because there is nothing worse than life stories from someone you don’t know that are supposed to be funny, but are really not that funny. It’s like hearing a long, awkward story about a coworker’s uncle. Luckily, Caitlin Moran...more
Lena
Six months ago, a memoir by a British columnist about feminism would not have caught my eye. Feminism (in this country, anyway) always seemed unnecessary to me, something that had been capably handled by the previous generation and no longer required much thought. This attitude no doubt stemmed from my having spent the majority of my life in progressive liberal communities and primarily self-employed, vaguely aware of that nagging gender pay gap but never having felt personally affected by it.

Th...more
Heather
A little backstory. I have recently moved from a city that contained all my family and friends to a city that has no one I have ever met or spoken to prior to my move. Needless to say, I'm in a bit of a personal exploration stage of life, and this book called to me as I sipped my latte at my new neighborhood bookstore.

While I don't agree with every comment, suggested act, etc. that Moran mentions in her often funny ode to womanhood, I don't think I was meant to. Rather she takes the stance that...more
Roxane
1. I am confounded by the critical response. Confounded.
2. The book is indeed very funny and has its charms but this is far more memoir than manifesto and very grounded in a rather singular set of experiences.
3. Good humor doesn't elevate common sense wisdom into groundbreaking or important feminist thought.
4. Casual racism! More than once! Or twice!
5. Birthing babies makes you a woman, you see. But that's followed by a chapter where it's totes okay if you choose not to have a baby.
6. People are...more
zan
I held back from giving this a review once I'd finished it. The opening chapters had me cheerleading its praises right away to friends: "You HAVE to read this BOOK." Yes! We have to laugh at bikini waxes! This is the only way women will move forward!

As I got deeper into the book, though, I was more torn. On the one hand, like many people who will read this book, I read it and was like "yes Yes YES!" At several points, I thought "THIS IS SO ME!" the way people do about Liz Lemon and Stevie Nicks...more
Emy
No one can deny that Caitlin Moran has a way with words, and this is enough to make How To Be A Woman a very enjoyable and entertaining read.

But this book has more to offer than just style. "Part memoir, part rant" as described on the cover, is a good way of explaining how Caitlin Moran grounds reflections on feminism on personal experiences and anecdotes.

And for most of the book, it works. Unfortunaly, Moran loses her way before the end of the book. While at first her text shows a lot of reflec...more
Anna
I made the mistake of trying to read some of this book in the hairdressers and had to put it away as I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face and everyone was staring at me. I've never read anything by Caitlin Moran before and only came across this book as a blog I read mentioned it, however I really really enjoyed this book, I took a long time to read it as I wanted to draw it out. It's not a feminist handbook or intellectual analysis of the feminist movement, it's an anecdotal r...more
Ali
If it hadn't been for the fact that this was chosen by someone at my book group, I would never have read it. I knew it wasn't my kind of book. I am quite prepared to be wrong about a book, I have been before. However I wasn't wrong, I didn't like this at all.

Firstly, I'm sure this can't really be described as a work of feminism - which is how it has been touted - talking about sex and saying c*nt a lot doesn't make one a feminist! (However I would also agree that most of us women these days are...more
Annalise Hulse
My Mum always told me that if you can't say something nice then you shouldn't say anything at all.

So I guess that this is where I should end this review. But I stopped listening to my Mum about 20 years back.

Ugh. I'm sorry but I hate this book. It's just a load of heard it all before, stereotypical, attempting to be funny feminist drivel.

It may come as a shock to Ms Moran but she is not the first woman to realise that you don't have to wear a thong and totter around in 6 inch heels to prove you...more
Kate
Having seen a few snippets of this book in various papers and magazines, I was looking forward to reading How To Be A Woman. I was not at all disappointed as Moran's writing is in turns exceptionally funny, really moving and above all relevant to modern women. OK, the title seems to imply that Moran's way of being a woman is the only way, but most of what she has to say was relevant, pertinent and above all totally accessible to women in the 2010's.

No, this isn't a feminist text which has gravit...more
Blair
Described as 'part memoir, part feminist rant', Times columnist (and person who once retweeted my angry article about an awful women's magazine and made me and my blog Twitter-famous for five minutes) Caitlin Moran's How To Be a Woman is a mixture of autobiographical anecdotes, lifestyle/celebrity journalism, fiercely opinionated missives and humour. Lots and lots of humour. I really appreciated the feminist content - how nice and refreshing it is to find a book about what modern feminism means...more
Laura Fudge
What a book. Had it not been for the fact that I was very tired this week I’d have read it all in one go. In fact I read the majority of this book on two train journeys – with a few quick chapters here and there wherever I could steal five minutes. I did not want to put this book down.

Described as “part memoir, part rant” this book looks at Caitlin’s life from the age of 13 onwards, and different elements of what it is to be a woman, from tampons to sex, what to call your boobs, having no friend...more
Sarina
I think it was after the half-way point of the novel that I realized Caitlin Moran was not an “aspiring feminist” and that she has had years to research women’s studies, then develop educated opinions about each of the topics covered in her book. For some reason, my subconscious wanted me to believe that she was close to my age – seventeen, perhaps nineteen at the oldest. I was, as you can imagine, floored when I realized she is a married mother in her thirties. Like, what? It still does not com...more
Sarah
A must read for any woman under thirty this, I reckon, though I'm not, you understand. I've a decade on Caitin and grew up with the feminist debate raging about mine ears. For a while now I've been sighing heavily at how it seemed to have fallen off the cultural radar - no one seemed to be talking about it any more, let alone calling themselves a strident feminist. And now here's Ms Moran, putting the debate about what it means to be a woman in the 21st century not just back on the agenda, but i...more
Fiona
Feminist memoirs are tricky. Memoirs, by definition, are just one individual's experiences but feminism is a collective movement agitating for women, in all their variety, to have freedom of experience. So it's like shooting fish in a barrel to criticise this book for appearing to suggest that because one white middle-class woman has the financial and cultural power to fight sexism by merely cocking a snook at it, having first diagnosed it as sexism by dint of it being impolite, that all women c...more
KJ
Jun 08, 2013 KJ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to KJ by: Nobody
Didn't know what to expect when I pulled it off the shelf, I didn't judge the book by it's cover, and I didn't have a clue who the author was, though I did have a skeptical suspicion that I was taking a big leap of faith, I figured it's in a charity shop so somebody obviously didn't want it or didn't like it, does this mean I might hate it?
Well I won't be making that presumption ever again, as it turned out to be an amazing book, I got home with it started reading with a cup of tea and was insta...more
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Random Readers: How To Be A Woman - Chapter Seven 1 2 Jun 13, 2014 07:32AM  
Random Readers: How To Be A Woman - Chapter Six 1 2 Jun 12, 2014 07:16AM  
Random Readers: How To Be A Woman - Chapter Five 1 1 Jun 11, 2014 08:54AM  
Random Readers: How To Be A Woman - Chapter Four 1 1 Jun 10, 2014 12:17PM  
Random Readers: How To Be A Woman - Chapter Three 1 1 Jun 10, 2014 07:59AM  
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Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen briefly presented the pop show 'Naked City' on Channel 4. Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on The Times – both as a TV critic and also...more
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Moranthology How to Build a Girl The Chronicles of Narmo The Library Book The Booby Trap and other Bits and Boobs

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“We need to reclaim the word 'feminism'. We need the word 'feminism' back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist - and only 42% of British women - I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of 'liberation for women' is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? 'Vogue' by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?” 483 likes
“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.” 279 likes
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